By Sanjay Kumar Kar
The latest round of assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur reinforced India's supremacy in democratic processes. The Election Commission of India (ECI) deserves full credit for conducting elections with meticulous planning and execution without fail.
Despite such a transparent, fair, and successful election, however, some political parties challenged the ECI to return to the age-old practice of ballot papers. The ECI, however, gave a befitting reply to the allegations of these retrogressive thinkers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the voters and citizens for strengthening the pillars of democratic process.
The declaration of Election results on March 11, 2017 brought thumping and historic win for Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The Indian National Congress (INC) was victorious in Punjab only and managed to emerge the single largest party in Goa and Manipur – where it fell short of majority.
However, despite emerging as the single largest party in Goa and Manipur, the Congress failed to form government in both states. The organisational and people- management skills of BJP forced Congress to introspect. BJP, though the second largest party, managed to secure invitation from the respective Governors to form governments in Goa and Manipur.
BJP's ambition of 'Congress-Mukt Bharat' (Congress-free India) looks far more convincing now. However, 'Congress-Mukt Bharat' may not be the idealistic scenario for the largest democracy in the world. Some political analysts wish to see 'Rahul-Mukt Congress' than 'Congress-Mukt Bharat'. Statistics of falling vote share for Congress party indicate that it is on the verge of losing its 'National' party tag.
BJP emerged from a marginal party to a national party -- more importantly, today there is hardly any challenger to Mr Modi and his team at the national level. However, at the regional level, especially in parts of eastern and southern India, the Modi model is yet to succeed.
Historic verdicts in favour of Modi in the 2014 General Elections followed by 2017 state elections are testimony to PM Modi's popularity. Political analysts even consider success in the state elections as the precursor to PM Modi's victory in the 2019 General Elections.
However, PM Modi thinks beyond elections and certainly works tirelessly to take India to the next level in the global positioning map. PM Modi's work ethics and values have not only been appreciated by marketing guru Philip Kotler but also by millions across the globe. And the aspirations of these millions motivate PM Modi to set a new benchmark and work even harder.
Riding on the surging confidence of modern India, PM Modi spots trends of emerging ‘New India’ full of optimism, aspirations, and willingness to go the distance. The aspirations and willingness of young India are slated to serve as growth engine for ‘New India’.
Young India, with 65 per cent of population below 35 years, offers the biggest opportunity to work for the betterment of humankind. In this context, India is poised to serve as the human resource capital of the world. Indian techno-managers in various fields have proven their credentials across the globe. India has enough of this natural resource to fuel growth of the emerging 'New India'.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects India to be among the fastest growing major economies with economic growth of 7.2 per cent in 2017 and 7.7 per cent in 2018. PWC estimates that India is going to be a $15.7 trillion economy by 2025 and the second largest economy with GDP of $44.1 trillion by 2050 -- quite ahead of the US ($34.1 trillion).
Growth opportunities are exciting -- the middle class offers the greatest opportunity to propel India into the new orbit. PM Modi considers the poor as having the capability to act as the most important pillar in the inclusive growth process, offering the biggest opportunity for growth -- empowering the poor by offering more opportunities to excel and supplement the middle-class to lead the ‘New India’ in the 21st century.
The challenges ahead of ‘New India’ are enormous, but surmountable. Some of the areas which demand immediate, continuous, and vigilant attention include eradication of poverty, education, sanitation, drinking water, healthcare system, energy security, infrastructure, employment, irrigation, sustainable agriculture, and green industrialisation.
I would like to emphasise on healthcare as it is one of the major concerns for India. Needless to mention, the primary healthcare system needs major revamp. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that India accounts for more than 25 per cent of the global tuberculosis cases and deaths. Nobody understands better than PM Modi that the poor and marginalised sections of society suffer the most due to insufficient healthcare system. I hope, by 2022 the ‘New India’ should have a strong healthcare system.
Sanitation remains another challenge -- a joint report by UNICEF and WHO estimates that 44 per cent of India's population practised open defecation in 2015. The Modi Government has already undertaken multiple steps to meet this challenge.
To address all the highlighted challenges, the government at various levels needs progressive reforms. Often, implementation of reforms become the mother of all challenges. The Modi government possesses the courage, conviction, political willingness and, most importantly, the mandate to push forward reforms for the betterment of citizens and the mother earth.
The Modi government's promise "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas" (development of all with participation of all) is not just a tagline, it is an integral part of governance, delivery, and way of life. The Modi government is credited with many path-breaking initiatives like girl child education, empowering the poor, bank account for all, cash transfer to the needy, crop insurance, Goods & Services Tax (GST), demonetisation and digital India, among others.
A strong push for digital India is poised to: (i) change life of millions of Indians; (ii) reduce circulation of cash and widen tax collection; (iii) increase efficiency; and (iv) enhance productivity.
Sanitation has always been on top of PM Modi's agenda -- therefore on October 2, 2014 he launched Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission. Under the mission, in urban area about 3 million individual toilets and over 100 thousand community or public toilets were built along with 525 cities being declared open defecation-free. Further, 3.6 million toilets were built in rural areas along with 117 thousand villages, 118 districts, and three states being declared open defecation-free.
These numbers suggest that the government made significant inroads to achieve Clean India Mission. However, constructing toilets is as important as making water available, keep them running, and changing habits of the people.
Millions of Indians across the globe would like to see India leading global transformation. Eternally optimistic, PM Modi calls for support of all citizens and well-wishers to come together to unveil a transformed ‘New India’ by 2022.
Will ‘New India’ be metamorphosed by 2022? To my mind such a metamorphosis takes its own time because the change is linked to more than elements, including social aspects.
Demonetisation as a change was accepted by millions with the hope of better tomorrow. Therefore, I believe, PM Modi connects with and senses the pulse of his fellow Indians better than many tall leaders. India is well on course to embracing the change brought in by the agent of change -- PM Modi. Let's cheer for NEW INDIA!
(Sanjay Kumar Kar is Head, Department of Management Studies, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology, at Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org)